9 Obstacles to Faith in the Former Communist Countries of Europe

Many Pioneers serve in nations that are currently communist or have been communist within recent history.  Current communist nations include China, Cuba, Laos, Vietnam, and North Korea.  Previous communist nations in Europe include Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and the Soviet Union. 

What happens to a people group that has endured communism?  What barriers does communism create for Gospel receptivity?  The list below was compiled with input from Pioneers located around the globe, serving in nations that are currently or formerly communist.  

  1. Communism creates a culture of secrecy.  Christians who survive communism are forced to hide their faith or be punished for it.  When communism falls, the believers have already developed a habit of hiding their faith and an unwillingness to share it—making evangelism very rare. 
  2. Relatedly, under communism Christians often become desensitized to compromise.  Many are forced to sign certifications that they do not practice religion or to register in some way that promises they do not have a faith.  These seemingly small compromises add up and lead to a worn down desire and drive to be obedient to the Lord. 
  3. Communism triumphs the material world, science, and intellect.  The spiritual world is completely rejected.  In order to be a true communist, one must be an atheist.  Any faith in anything other than science or what is seen, is viewed as weak. 
  4. People who live or have lived under communism find the concept of grace very hard to digest.  Communism teaches that you get what you deserve.  The compassion of Jesus is totally foreign.  Grace is too good to be true. 
  5. On the opposite side of the same coin, communism produces people who work to earn favor.  Work and productivity are highly valued.  People cannot imagine not working for their rewards on earth and in heaven. 
  6. In communist cultures leaders are not kind or trustworthy.  Examples of leaders who lead sacrificially are not existent.  Therefore, people cannot imagine a good God who is trustworthy.  
  7. Under communism the collective good of the people is considered far more worthwhile than the independence of individuals.  People do not think for themselves.  The culture does not value or promote freedom, unalienable rights, or personal responsibility.  Citizens are required to play their part in society and individual joy and ideas are squelched. 
  8. People under communism are very afraid of the repercussions they will face if they believe. Following Christ often means the loss of a job, community, family, and the possibility of imprisonment.  Even in countries where communism no longer reigns, people are very afraid of doing anything outside the norms of their culture.  People are mocked or shunned if they make choices that are different from everyone else’s. 
  9. Missionaries often find life in communist or post-communist cultures very difficult and oppressive.  Many are unable to stay due to government restrictions or personal trials related to their dark surroundings.  The high burnout rate of missionaries leads to a discounting of the message they have brought.  Additionally, many are taught that Christianity is a western religion that seeks to undermine the communist government. 

Pray for people groups around the globe who currently suffer under communism or have been raised under communism and have not yet shed its oppression.  Pray that the God of Grace would move hearts to believe and follow Him.  That His grace would be found sufficient for them (2 Corinthians 12:9) and that He would be exalted among the nations and in all the earth (Psalm 46:10).